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What does "as is" mean when buying a used car?

If you want to buy a new car in Virginia, it is important that you understand what you are getting into. For instance, when you see the phrase "as is" in conjunction with the sales propaganda, beware. That is not to say that all as-is vehicles are lemons, but there is a good chance that any as-is vehicle has a costly and difficult to repair issue. However, before you write off all as-is used vehicles, you should better understand why and when dealerships use the term. 

Autotrader explains what as-is means. Generally speaking, "as is" refers to a car's warranty status, not its physical condition. In some cases, an as-is vehicle does, in fact, come with a warranty. In such cases, a dealer may acknowledge that a vehicle does have flaws and defects, for which you, the potential new owner of the vehicle, would be liable. The warranty, however, may cover other as-of-yet undiscovered faults. In other cases, an as-is vehicle comes without a warranty. In these instances, the as-is status simply refers to its lack of warranty. You, as the potential buyer, would be responsible for all deficiencies.

Though you take a risk whenever you buy any used vehicle, you should think twice before buying an as-is one. Unlike a new car or a used vehicle that comes with a warranty, you become financially liable for all issues as soon as you sign the final document. If, say, for instance, the vehicle breaks down three blocks from the dealership because of a blown head gasket, the dealership would not have any legal obligation to help you pay for the cost of repairs. It would also not have any legal obligation to help you out with tow fees or any other expenses.

Sometimes as-is vehicles can be great investments. However, before you do decide to buy a used car without a warranty, have a mechanic inspect it and give you insight into what sort of problems lurk beneath the surface. The mechanic's fee may be nothing compared to what you could save on a potential lemon.

This post is for purely educational purposes. It should not be construed as legal advice.


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